The dreams in which I’m dying.
When I was a little kid, I remember learning—to my surprise, and something very much like repulsion—that some people actually dream mostly in black and white. Not only were these people’s dreams devoid of top-shelf sensations like motion, pleasure, texture, taste, smell, proprioception, and so forth, but they basically had no color. I instinctively loathed and distrusted the very notion of such people on general principle, and now I think I have a pretty good idea of what these (obviously-damaged) individuals see when they close their eyes at night: It must look something like Sega’s forthcoming Madworld. And I’m a little scared.
Madworld looks more like something from the more psychotic pages of Vertigo’s Sin City than something meant to be jammed exclusively into the cavities of the innocent, white, plastic Nintendo Wii. It’s a stark, black-and-white bloodbath of a street-fighting game stylized to comic-book degrees and spattered with glops of glaring red blood as the only ‘color’ to accentuate the over-the-top violence. Madworld is the sick demento-child of Platinum Games—also known as the individuals Tatsuya Minami, Hideki Kamiya, Atsushi Inaba, and Shigenori Nishikawa, a group whose game-dev backgrounds span such titles as Viewtiful Joe, Resident Evil 4, Devil May Cry, and Okami.
Even in modern video-game terms, it’s pretty depraved. The demo we were treated, or subjected to, got right down to business when the player-character—at this stage, I hesitate to call him the “hero”—ripped a street sign, pole and all, out of the nearest city sidewalk (it was either a Yield or a Caution sign, pretty funny either way) and javelined it right into another character’s eyesocket and out the back of his head. Thusly pole-axed, the ‘recipient’ staggered around for a bit, the length of the street-sign jutting out of his skull, until the player-character used said pole as a lever to hurl the now-dead and profusely-bleeding enemy into the nearest wall.
In another instance, the player-character took up what appeared to be a baseball bat, and started Mark Macguiring away, sending his victims hurtling down the block to splatter. We’re talking monsoons of blood, complete with comic-panel-style letters reading “SPLAAAT!!” in 72-point S. Clay Wilson. The objective of this "sidequest"? To hit them against a massive, three-story-high dartboard that rears up from the horizon to absorb the bloody impacts of the man-missiles. Bonus wrongness: The signage on the building where the dartboard resided actually read “MANDARTS”.
The focus seems to be on melee weapons (as opposed to guns), largely for the dramatic visual impact. No matter how messily you blow somebody’s head off, you’re just not going to get much in the way of stomach-churning visuals from two blocks down the street. In this sense, the function guides the form. The urban landscape is filled with incidental features that all lend themselves toward sadistic, bloody misuse: Walls of massive spikes upon which to impale your opponents over and over; filthy dumpsters with (apparently) razor-sharp lid-edges (the better to chop your foes in half, my dear); and of course, that cult-cinema chestnut - the arm-mounted chainsaw. If he weren’t already so double-booked in being totally screwed for the foreseeable future, I’m sure Jack Thompson would love to take a shot at this baby.
It’s not yet clear as to the much of the story involved, or the ultraviolent motivations of the main character—only that both exist in the bloody gameshow in which you compete, with celebrity commentary to boot. Controls apparently involve the nunchuck stick for movement, and the Wii-mote’s accelerometer for the sheer impact of the melee attacks involved—but no overspecific niggling around with the infrared pointing mechanism. Gotta keep that blood flowing, don’t cha know.
This arguable candidate for The Grossest, Most Hardcore Thing to Ever Grace a Nintendo Console™ is slated to ship sometime in 2009.